Tag Archives: blogging

‘Writers and Their Cats’ by Alison Nastasi – review

Writers and Their Cats: (Gifts for Writers, Books for Writers, Books about Cats, Cat-Themed Gifts)Writers and Their Cats: by Alison Nastasi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If dogs are man’s best friends with their childlike artlessness and uninhibited affection, what are cats? Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, answered thus: “Cats are so nice and selfish.” Writers and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi is a delightful illustration of such a relationship between writers and their cats with peek-a-boo glimpses of the celebrity authors’ unknown personal aspects behind the public façade.

The fascination with the graceful demeanor and graceful capriciousness of cats is particularly intense among the volatile and imaginative writers as the muse of their lettered labyrinths. Edgar Allan Poe wished he could write as mysteriously good as his cat Catarina who liked to hover herself over Poe’s shoulders while he was writing. Mark Twain, whom I used to associate with something of a Dog Father, turns out to be a godfather of cats who rented cats to city dwellers during their holidays in the countryside. Twain also named his cats commensurate with his wicked sense of humor: Satan, Soapy Sal, Lazy, etc. Furthermore, Twain proclaimed that anyone who likes a cat is his friend. The imposing figure of rough and tough Ernest Hemingway may not match the delicate silhouettes of cats’ sophisticated society. Still, Papa Hemingway loved them with the tenderness he rarely showed even to his better halves.

The book also introduces readers to various writers of our digital era whose love of cats takes them to the world outside their comfort zones in selective solitude. Patricia Highsmith, a high-strung, highly opinionated, no-nonsense author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, reveals her Tate-a-Tate moments by greeting her cat, “We are going to have a great day today.” Marion James, who wrote A Brief History of Seven Killings, met Tom the Cat at a café in Brooklyn, New York, who, like the writer, enjoyed being outside among people because both of them thrived on the liveliness of the world around them as a creative force. Then Peeti Shency, the Indian novelist and artist, writes about the experience of sharing a terrific story about her trip to the Kedar-Gouri Temple dedicated to the eponymous goddess with a particular fondness of cats, thus elevating them to the divine status of the immortals. Shency resurrects the legends of holy cats in the temple to our digitalized reality of the world and connects them to our need for their presence for nature’s mysteriousness.

There are many other writers in the book whose love for their cats are touching. They all confess to their odes to cats that only cats can understand what they are and who they are. Whether or not cats have a supernatural sense of reading people’s minds, I have no intelligence. Still, I do know that a cat is good at observing your movement and facial expression from my observation of Toro, a 12-week old male brown tabby kitten, who likes to watch me what I am doing and where I am going. A cat is a curiously interesting beast, and it is this semblance of intelligence that makes a cat so attractive to the imaginative, high-strung writers. If you have a cat at home and a writer at heart, this book will present you with a delightful treat to your mind, packed full of beautiful pictures of writers and their cats not in grim portraiture but natural snapshots. Readers may tempt to show the writers’ photos with their cats to your cats.

View all my reviews

Let Children out of Politics.

There has been a vortex of fiery opinions on the controversial Netflix film “Cuties,” directed by French Senegalese Maimouna Maimouna Doucoure as her debut feature. I first heard of the movie while checking on Twitter feed filled with vehement subjective narratives divided -yet again-by the in-vogue trend of racially charged political views, which seems to blur the ambit of art for art’s sake appealing to the universal audience. But the unified viewpoint on the provocative representation of sexualized pre-adolescent girls weighs against the film’s thematic slogan of liberation from oppression, come what may.

The movie has gained a cult status among self-professed progressive keyboard warriors, defenders of social inequality, when in fact, they are seldom in contact with the people they speak for or even get together in their daily lives. That said, the movie has become something of a visual manifesto of social activism, rather than a joy of cinematic experience that bestows a sensory pleasure and mental piquancy on viewers. No pornification and the misguided display of sexual oppression in children’s figures can be sublimated into art. Children are not a medium of political efficacy or a vehicle of personal ambition. The sexualization of children imitating adult acts is counter-productive in translating onto screen per se the socially disfranchised class consciousness in a highly secular society where the income level defines individuals’ worth. Little girls in skimpy attires, gyrating and eyeing in a way that makes them the cult of Ishtar at a Babylonian temple where girls offer their bodies to strange men for holy prostitution. Or shall I say it is a revisionist adaption of “Pretty Baby” or “Lolita” directed by a black woman whose directorial debut is undoubtedly impressive and provocative in the BLM wake?

It amazes me to see people think themselves rational and reasonable when they are just self-professed egoists illustrated with their ostentatiously abstract view of social reality that seems to be out of touch with their own class. They regard “Cuties” as telltale cinematic radical feminism and socialism with a view to liberation by the parody of the reality. However, these intellectuals oversee or willfully ignore the truth about human nature: physical, rather than metaphysical; it is tactile rather than theoretical. Our faculty of mind is affected by the works of the senses and of the imaginations. To this effect, ‘Cuties” will adversely affect people’s judgment when their eyes direct toward the visual feast of perverted pleasure because the impulse, when arisen by stimuli, defeats Ego, voids the Superego, and commandeers false promise of liberation with rapacious sensuality.

Minor Earth, Major Sky

As a hobbyist dilettante writer, I have been writing this and that on my beloved blog for four years. Despite English being my Second Language, I dare to write in it against criticism of solecism regarding all the prescriptive rules of the most popular language of the Indo-European linguistic superphyla. The reason I continue to and love to write is no more than the justice of my meek self, smothered under the mask of exoticness that has become my sole identity, and a written touchstone for the neural activities of the mind. I sometimes wonder affected by the progress of neurological or physiological maladies as I slowly walk toward the end of the mortal journey on earth. So, I want to leave the mark of my existence. Welcome to My Invisible World, the Minor Earth.

The provenance of today’s post comes from my reading of a Saturday edition of the Guardian subscription on my Kindle two days ago. It featured a book review of Must I Go by Yiyun Li, exultantly described as a cracking read written by a Chinese-American woman writer deserving of the commendation. The article began with her illustrious academic background as an immunologist and a recipient of a prestigious MacArthur grant bestowed on geniuses. While such introductory curriculum vitae is undoubtedly relevant to denote her intellectual brilliance, I wonder if such a decorative prerequisite is necessary for the book’s worth. What if Li were just an obscure Chinese writer delving into English writing without the decoration? Such a hypothetical question might be regarded as nothing but an incoherent rambling of a jilted would-be writer. Yet, I have noticed that ordinariness is off-putting, unglamorous, and unworthy of recognition. Call it a groundless presumption or jealous subjectivism even, but it’s the truth. Charlotte’s Bronte’s author’s tenet of faithful allegiance to truth and nature seems to apply to the otherness of the Far-Eastern writers whose ordinariness is merely invisible and regardless. That is, they exist in an invisible habiliment of mysteriousness from Shangri-La.

The review analyzes Li’s literary reality of uprooted sentimentality in the background against America’s wilderness, so to speak, in which her existential question of who she is based. Li also rides on the crest of the waves of cultural identity, as is the principal thematic element of most Far-Eastern writers. Rather than striking the chords with the universality of human life, they tend to focus on the egoistic litany of alienation with their selfsame egoist emphasis on otherness. In this regard, Far-Eastern writers themselves foster this strangeness, this otherness, these less-than-ordinary images based on their literary tenet they believe truthful and appealing to selective, not universal readers. That is why I, who is also from the far east tend to eschew their stories, void of the common ground of empathy, no other than the shared physical reality.

Enter Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, whose literary world is not limited in his racial and cultural backgrounds. A good writer is capable of travel and metamorphosis beyond the existential terra, where the vision becomes a reality of its own. Ishiguro wants to be all that he can be away from his physical context to manifest his views on human nature, which aims to chime the bells of universal emotions. However, such transfiguration of physical reality into the universal realm of consciousness does not betray Ishiguro’s ascribed biological characteristics because creative force, in conjunction with desire for aesthetic values of literature, is mightier and higher than physical reality. In this sense, Ishiguro gloriously triumphs over racial barriers, and splendidly demonstrates that what you look like and where you are from cannot confine you who you want to become.

I still write despite my imperfect command of English simply because I love the act of writing as a valve for opening myself dying for a fresh breath. My book has sold only five digits of a hand. I recently received a comment on one of my book reviews I posted three years ago on amazon with 32 likes that callously slighted my ability to write in general because of minor violations of grammar rules. Yes, I am an amateur writer of Far-Eastern backgrounds with an ordinary job as a legal assistant with a B.A. in English from a state university. Yes, my English is far from the perfection of English Undefiled. Yet, writing is no longer a prerogative of the academically privileged whose selfish seclusion of lettered cases is adulated. Writing is a democratic vehicle in which anyone can morph into whoever she or he wishes without restraints. Take Tolstoy, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and Jane Austen, all of whom put their literary aspiration into reality despite their spelling weakness. No one shall bully my writing skills, nor belittle my volition to write for universal readership. Forget how I look and speak. It’s the heart’s passion and satisfaction of reason letting out of the cocooned physical reality that deserves manifestation. For this reason, I write with or without public recognition with a myriad of likes.

P.S.: I don’t believe that you can follow my blog without liking what I have written. Also, even if you fulfill the requirement above, if you are regarded as a marketing puppet, then I will drive you away. Therefore, I will not treasure your subscription to my blog if you just press the button on caprice and whims. Certainly not for my blog.

Why I write

413JqnAw54L

My very first e-book now available on Amazon Kindle

Dear Readers,

Howdy to all. Thanks for visiting my hermit blog either by happenstance or curiosity. Writing has always been my favorite activity by which I feel meaningful and truthful. It has been a magic marble, an alchemical mode of transforming myself into all that I want to become or capable of becoming via the magical process of words. As Francis Bacon corroborates, reading makes a full person, writing makes a whole person by expressing the self to the extent possible. I am not a great writer, but my passionate volition to express my inmost thoughts and feelings that strive for artistic manifestation exceeds such fear of public derision. This yearning for manifested creativity chimes the bell of Kurt Vonnegut’s benevolent adage: “To practice any artno matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

Hence I published my first-time official short fiction on Amazon Kindle that is available now for free. It’s a whimsical story without a complex plot about a young girl unsure of herself experiences a kind of Midsummer Night’s Dream or Rip Van Winkle’s fairy tale. This may sound audacious hyperbole, vis-a-vis the works of the geniuses in Literature, but the semblance of thematic and the author’s affinity for the brilliance of the great literature allow her to make a literary parallel thereto, so to speak.

As some of you may know, English is not my mother tongue but a beloved adoptive linguistic child of mine that I love to nourish and nurture. That said, my first e-book is my attempt at producing a child of labor. This doesn’t surpass the degree of affection for this blog of mine, which is also a labor of love, but writing a book is certainly on a different spectrum of mental efforts.

Solicitation of readership may come across as an aggressive way of forcing people to read what she writes because it may not satisfy the level of expectations that a reader has set as an intellectual or entertaining touchstone, which is why I find it hard to self-promote my e-book. And yet, despite my shyness fused with hesitation, I would like to request that you try my e-book and leave your feedback on Amazon after reading because that’s the way I can grow into and blossom into a beautiful literary rose in the future. Won’t you as a kindred writing pard throw me a rope of hope to climb up the Alpine Path? Many thanks in advance! 🙂

Best regards,

Stephanie